Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher, Electric Monkey!
1942. The fate of the world rests on a knife’s edge. And the soldiers who can tip the balance . . . are girls.
Set in an alternate World War II where young women are called up to fight alongside men, this is the story of Rio Richlin and her friends as they go into battle against Hitler’s forces.
But not everyone believes that they should be on the front lines. Now Rio and her friends must fight not only to survive, but to prove their courage and ingenuity. Because the fate of the world is in the hands of the soldier girls.
This book is so good guys! Seriously! I wasn't really sure what to expect to be honest! This is shockingly my first Michael Grant book and history geek that I am, I couldn't resist.
I stumbled upon the book on GoodReads and ended up being sent a proof by the lovely publishers and I'm so grateful because this book was simply fantastic! Like I said, I wasn't sure what to expect, all I knew was that the girls where going in to the war and so on, I wasn't sure where it would start or anything. I was intrigued to see if things would end up different, events and their outcomes changing and so on and I still am, as there's two more books and the end of the book gives you a good idea of what's to come and I've gotta say, I'm super excited!
ANYWAY! You go from the sign up process, which was interesting to see because a few of the men weren't happy about women joining in! Then you go through basic training and so on until they finally hit the front lines. I kinda of wasn't sure what was going to happen, but I figured we'd jump in right at the Front, but then the way the book was written, the way the story unravelled, I loved reading about what the training was like, how the girls handled it. Also like I said, some of the guys weren't happy the girls where there, most of the guys accepted them and tried to help out against the douche guys, but it was oddly interesting watching the girls deal with all the comments and being determined to prove themselves and get some respect and so on, then being back at square one once they left basic training. It was so interesting to see the war through the eyes of a female in general and what they though of it, let alone seeing the fighting through the eyes of a female.
The thing that interested me about all three of our main female characters, is that they weren't drafted, they all enlisted themselves and they all had different reasons why. They where also all in different areas, as it where, intelligence, army and army medic. I loved how Grant wove their stories together as the book went on. The POV changes where smooth and each had a distinctive voice and entertaining narrative, and each different setting had it's own vibe.
Rio was in the army basic training camp, Frangie was in a segregated training camp and Rainy was training in intelligence, so each had it's own different vibe. Each of the three where in different situations so as we moved from POV to POV I was always interested in what was going to happen next for each character and it was fascinating to see how they all interacted and integrated with the guys. It wasn't pleasant all the time, obviously. You could really feel the atmosphere of each setting and scene, the fear, the tension, the belligerence when the women where being waved off by their guys and so on. It seeped off the page. Certain places or things would be mentioned like Krakow and I'd get a horrible sense of foreboding as well. Seeing as it's the US army, and they didn't join in until after Pearl Harbour, I already had a rough idea of the time frame without even reading the year on the first page, and it was interesting to see what the soldiers and so on felt and thought about joining in the war.
Impromptu history lesson folks, just in case you aren't all that familiar with what went on...the President really wanted to join the war, but he couldn't force the country in to joining because so many people where against it, then when Pearl Harbour happened, the public changed their minds as the Japanese brought them in to the war. The attack on Pearl Harbour was essentially a war crime because the Japanese attached without a warning or declaration of war. The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour because the US cut off supplies to China, which Japan where trying to take over, and they wanted to get the fleet out of the way so they could go in to Malaya to get access to oil and rubber and so on. There's a tonne more to it than that, but that's the basics, which is why I was incredibly interested to see what the public sentiment was in the US. The history I know of WW2 is predominantly British because we where all taught it in school loads and my Dad has a tonne of books on it and ya know....history nerd. So it was interesting to me, to see things from the US perspective. Especially the Battle of the Kasserine Pass. I actually didn't know much about it in detail, just the basics so it was fascinating to get a first hand perspective, as it where, to what went on and everything.
Front Lines really sucks you in because it's so authentic in its language, and slang and phrases and dialogue and thoughts and just everything. Everything is so insanely authentic and genuine that you find yourself transported back to the 40's and you're right there alongside the girls. It's enthralling. I read this in one sitting, and ever since I put the book down, I can't stop thinking about it! It sticks in your mind long after you've finished reading, it genuinely does. You feel everything the characters do, fear, desperation, small shreds of hope, terror and so on. Then they're thrown in to the action, with people dying everywhere and it all becomes real to you as well as them, and it's horrifying and brutal and you're willing the characters on, to survive.
The characters are so freaking brilliant. So fantastically created. You have Rio who's determined to do her part, patriotic I guess. She's brave, she's loyal, she's determined and she's funny. She has a romance going on with a pilot and then there's another little one going on and I'm intrigued to see how that plays out, I wasn't sure whether or not to expect romance in this, but it's there, it's subtle and not at all the main focus, but it's there!
There's Frangie, who has to enlist because her family needs the money. She ends up becoming a medic, she's a woman of colour and she's in the segregated camp. Her parts made me angry, it's a very real look at what life would have been like for a POC in the 40's and ya know....we haven't even progressed all that much so it really makes you think.
Then you have Rainy, a Jewish girl who enlists in to the intelligence division, she's not in the action so much except for a bit at the end, and man she kicked ass. There's this one scene with this German guy and I'm fist pumping like "YES RAINY YOU TELL THE SOB"! Like I said, each character has a different reason for being there, each character, especially Rio, is changing or changed by the experience and the things they have to do. When they finally all met up I was like OMG and so excited to see them all together being all awesome. There's still so much I can picture for the characters, since I stopped reading my brain's played out all the possibilities for them and I'm so excited to see where they all go next, I'm rooting for all three of them!
We also have a shadowy narrator at the beginning and in two other parts, it's not Rio, I know that for sure, and I'm failing completely at working out who it is. I don't think Grant's doing a Book Thief, I think it's one of the girls or maybe one we haven't met yet, but it was intriguing hearing the input from the future and like I said, the final words from our shadowy narrator got me all excited for the next book. There's also these little breaks for letters to home from each of the girls, which gave you an insight in to Rio's relationship with Strand, as well as showing how they related everything that you'd experienced with them to their families, a few of them where even censored and it was so fantastically done. Rainy being an intelligence officer never says anything to be censored, whereas the others have huge black chunks in theirs. More so when the girls meet, you can see the difference between the ones seeing all the action and the ones in an office. You can also see how the ones fighting have changed and been changed.
Front Lines may start out slow, but it's the authentic feel, the atmosphere and the characters that have you engrossed in the story going from sign up to boot camp to war. You forget all about what you know of history, you forget women weren't allowed to enlist and you're completely sucked in and engrossed. This book has it's horrifying, brutal, harsh reality points, but it also has it's lighter points where you end up laughing either properly or a little chuckle or snort as the characters converse and joke about. By the end of the book I'd come to feel so proud of the characters for sticking out and making it so far, despite all the different forms adversity they faced. The are ships, there are REAL ships and I'm so excited to see where everything is going to go next, Grant is a fantastic, incredible author and I have never read anything like this at all. Grant has created three diverse female leads who you love to another level, and I can't possibly pick a favourite, I root for all of them all the time because they have so much to face and overcome, sexism, racism, actual fighting in an actual war. You all must read it immediately.